August 2011

Remove Idea-Blocking Obstacles with Conducivity

2011-08-01T20:37:03-04:00 Categories: Destination, solve|Tags: |

Day in-and-out we spend a good amount of our time coming up with creative ideas, solving problems, and making decisions. With focus, concentration, and inspiration, we are better and faster at these applied thinking skills.

Your boss just let you know – due in 48 hours – is the “big idea” that will build awareness of the new ready-to-drink beverage that is flopping. My guess is that sitting at a melamine covered desk, with gray cube walls, florescent lamps, message light blinking, and e-mails pinging isn’t the most effective place to hatch this killer solution. You need CONDUCIVITY.

Yep… a conducive, stress-free space that’s comfortable, free of distraction, and full of inspiration.

Tim Gallway in his book “The Inner Game of Work: Overcoming Mental Obstacles for Maximum Performance” outlined this formula…

Performance = potential – interference

The ability to be innovative and create new ideas is governed by our POTENTIAL minus the INTERFERENCE… Interference may include… lack of confidence, lack of process, lack of support, or in this example, a lack of conducive space.

Sounds great! How do I avoid this interference and find conducivity?

As an Individual

We spend a lot of our time at our desks, perhaps in a cubicle. Surround yourself with stuff that inspires you. Listen to music that gets your creative juices flowing. (Wear headphones, your tunes may not be what works for a cube-mate). Put on your cube walls pictures of your family, your kids, people who inspire you. Post pictures of your Imaginary Board of Directors. Call on them for help.

Create a Library, Cabin, Sci-Fi, or any other themed cube inspired by Kelly Moore’s book Cube Chic. If you’re the boss, try office modification.

If your desk won’t work for you – find another space.

As a marketer with Starbucks Coffee, I found it less distracting to be in a Starbucks cafe than in the Starbucks offices. Even though the cafe was noisy and busy, I didn’t have my real distractions – a phone, e-mail, and friendly co-workers.

Discover what works best for you.

As a Group

Stay out of the bored room! If your conference rooms suck the life out of you – trust they won’t be the space that will inspire you.

Besides that, it may be the very room where they came up with the idea that isn’t working (re: RTD flopping). Einstein once said… Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which they were created.

So, if your conference rooms are uninspiring, perhaps you need to build a space within your office – a CreativityLab – an in-building idea clubhouse.

If that is still too close to distraction, leave your building altogether.

There is no formula or prescription that works for everyone. Figure out what works for you and your team. You may find inspiration in a bowling alley, public library, or far-away resort lodge. Whatever you discover – go for it! Discover conducivity.

February 2011

Pick Your Place, On Purpose

2012-07-06T10:34:15-04:00 Categories: create, grow, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , , , |

The most up to date list of locations can be found on the Places page within Brainstorming Tools section.

You have to love when someone “makes your case” – that is – says or supports something you believe in as well.

Today’s post by Seth Godin makes the case that space matters.

This supports what I call the 3Ps of brainstorming and strategy meetings: people, process, and place. The most successful and productive meetings are a result of pulling together the right people, using the right process, hosted in the right place.

People and process? Most of us prepare for this. Being even more deliberate will improve our meetings. But the majority of us are way off when it comes to place.

We don’t consider the space. We don’t pick the place on purpose. When hosting an off-site, we get the space for free at the hotel where we book our rooms.

Conference space is provided when you buy the food package. Instead of booking rooms from people in the catering business, why not from people in the idea business? The strategy business? In your business?

Here is a partial list of places you can pick. Here in the US, in the UK, and some great spots in Holland. These are places that put the meeting and atmosphere first.

Purposeful Places

Destinations conducive for problem solving.

This list doesn’t include meeting space in hotel and convention centers. While they offer physical space, I have yet to find a hotel venue that is very inspirational.

North America

East Coast


(NYC, NY) – Dedicated space in New York where creative and business executives can gather to re-imagine their business.” Opened, 2008.


(NYC, NY) – Offers many locations throughout the NYC area suited for meetings, photo shoots, videos and movie sets. Contact: 212-431-8224 or


Catalyst Ranch

(Chicago, IL) – Eva Niewiadomski’s place. Five rooms of fun. A well known – perhaps the most popular in the US – creative space for rent. Opened in 2002.

Eureka! Ranch

(Cincinnati, OH) – Doug Hall started with a mansion, and upgraded to a whole ranch. He has perfected the science of innovation. Opened in 1992.

Idea Loft

(Kansas City, MO) – Chuck Dymer’s PeopleWorks location. Because space matters.


(Chicago, IL) Gerald Haman founded SolutionPeople a creativity and innovation training and development firm in 1989 and his creative meeting space – the Thinkubator.


(Columbus, OH) – Mark Henson, chief imagination officer, offers space and programs to help businesses be more creative. He offers a great newsletter. And a surprise hidden on his voicemail system.
(Hint…. push "6"). Opened in 2000.



(Calgary, Alberta) – As the site reads… “Welcome to a different kind of creative thinking space. Headspace aids in the exchange of ideas by providing the most flexible, supportive meeting space in Calgary. By removing physical and organizational barriers, Headspace promotes dialogue, ignites collaboration and inspires creativity. The best thinking always happens when you’re in the right Headspace.” Opened in 2011.

United Kingdom

The Boardwalk

(Manchester, England) – a ‘light, airy, spacious, urban’ location. Managed by ?WhatIf!

The Old Laundry

(London, UK) – “At The Laundry you won’t find any hard backed chairs, grey Formica tables or migraine inducing florescent strip lights – we believe that to be the kind of setting which saps your creative energy.” Managed by ?WhatIf!


The Netherlands – Amsterdam

Heineken – The City

Book an inspiring room in the heart of Amsterdam. Heineken the City is the ideal location for a day of brainstorming, team building or meetings in inspiring surroundings. Our spaces each have a unique interior and their environment and offer you the newest in multi-media facilities. They have three rooms:

Hub Amsterdam

A membership-based work and meeting space. Located near Amsterdam’s Central Train Station. (No membership fee necessary). Hub has many locations across the world. (Click on “Go To Hub” from the site’s menu for other locations).

SPACES: Amsterdam

Spaces offers office space for rent in inspiring surroundings in Amsterdam. At Spaces you not only rent square meters, but supporting services of all kinds of your choosing, such a reception service, office equipment, technical assistance, and catering of your meeting. All at reasonable prices.  Spaces also has a restaurant, coffee bar and plenty of seating for an informal conversation. Rooms for small and large groups.

The Netherlands – Den Haag

Future Center – The Buitenhuis

Billed as an inspiring, creative, and innovative location to work on policy and organization issues.

(If you run a space I haven’t listed, I’ll be happy to include it in the Places section of Idea Sandbox.)

Below is Seth’s post today, in full.

The space matters

It might be a garage or a sunlit atrium, but the place you choose to do what you do has an impact on you.

More people get engaged in Paris in the springtime than on the 7 train in Queens. They just do. Something in the air, I guess.

Pay attention to where you have your brainstorming meetings. Don’t have them in the same conference room where you chew people out over missed quarterly earnings.

Pay attention to the noise and the smell and the crowd in the place where you’re trying to overcome being stuck. And as Paco Underhill has written, make the aisles of your store wide enough that shoppers can browse without getting their butts brushed by other shoppers.

Most of all, I think we can train ourselves to associate certain places with certain outcomes. There’s a reason they built those cathedrals. Pick your place, on purpose.